VGB Feature: Competitive Gaming’s Next Big Thing – An Interview With BringIt Founder/CEO Woody Levin

Woody Levin.jpg Late last year, a new online gaming service burst onto the scene enabling gamers from around the world to hook up online and test their skills against one another for bragging rights. But that’s not all. Players can also put their money where their mouth is and place wagers on their matches with the hopes of raking in wads of cold, hard cash while they shame their competition.

This new service — currently in open beta — is called BringIt, and recently we got a chance to question its founder and CEO, Woody Levin about how this revolutionary competitive gaming platform came to be and where it’s going in the future.

VGBlogger: For those who haven’t heard of it, what is BringIt exactly?

Woody Levin: BringIt is a service which combines the love for video games with the rush of being able to put your money where your mouth is and play for cash! Members are able to play each other in one on one or multi player skill based challenges in their favorite console games for money, online. Members deposit money via any major credit card and are able to withdrawal their earnings through Pay Pal or receive a paper check. Their money is safe and BringIt uses leading edge technology to make the site a safe, secure, and fun place for all gamers.

VGB: What inspired you to create BringIt?

WL: In college at U-W Madison, the winters were cold and we were often cooped up in our rooms gaming well into the night. We always wanted to make it more interesting and up the ante so we’d play for pizza, beer, or some money. We always wanted to see who “the best” was and we wanted to have more than just bragging rights on the line. When I graduated I continued to play video games, and missed the days I used to play my buddies for cash. I wondered if there was some way we could do it over the internet, and after some research, a lot of testing and talking to the gaming community, BringIt was born. We raised Venture Capital and put together an experienced executive team to build the site and run the company.

HP_CallofDuty.jpg

VGB: When a gamer first clicks over to BringIt, what requirements must they meet before they can begin competing? What does the registration process entail?

WL: Signing up for BringIt is quick, easy, and best of all, Free! You must be 18 or older to sign up and live in a state which allows Skill Based Gaming. There are currently 9 states in the US which do not allow Skill Based Gaming of any type including Chess, Checkers, or even Fantasy Football for Money. Once your signed up you can set up your profile, deposit some cash, and start challenging other members in your game of choice!

VGB: What are the minimum/maximum betting limits? And are there any service fees?

WL: BringIt has a system in place to protect all of its members. Your limits gradually increase as you play more games ensuring that each player’s record and BringIt skill ranking is accurate on the site. A new player has a maximum entry fee of $25 for their first 10 games…after 30 games the maximum goes up to $500. We will also have a “VIP” area when members who are pre qualified can play for up to $100,000 a challenge.

HP_GearsofWar.jpg

VGB: How many games does BringIt currently support, and thus far into the service’s beta what have been the most popular titles?

WL: BringIt Supports over 20 games currently including: Madden 09, Fifa 09, NCAA Football 09, Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty World at War, NBA 2K9, NBA Live 09, NHL 09, Halo 3, Super Smash Bros Tour, Tiger Woods 09, Guitar Hero World Tour, Gears of War 2, MLB the Show, Rock Band 2, Mario Kart, Street Fighter Turbo HD, and Burnout Paradise.

The most popular games are sports titles, specifically Madden 09; however, a lot of FPS titles are very popular, and Wii titles are doing well also.

VGB: Looking at the website, BringIt only supports consoles right now – PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360. Are there any plans to add support for other platforms, particularly the PC given that it arguably has the most hardcore and competitive gaming community?

WL: In the future BringIt may look to expand beyond console gaming, but right now that is our focus. We want to make sure that we give our members the best user experience on the site rather than spread ourselves too thin. We want to focus on what we believe is a very sweet spot in the market.

HP_FIFA08.jpg

VGB: How do you go about introducing new games/platforms to the service? Is the decision of what gets added based on what fans want to play most?

WL: We have a special place on the forum section of BringIt for gamers to request new games. When enough of the members request a specific game, it is added. Our site is very flexible and we have the ability to listen to user feedback and react quickly.

VGB: What safeguards do you offer with BringIt to prevent cheaters and protect gamers from getting scammed? If a player believes they are being cheated, what reporting/moderation options do they have at their disposal?

WL: BringIt is and VeriSign SSL secure encrypted website and we use the industry leader Authorize.net for our payment processing so the safety and security begin right at the front door. BringIt also has 24/7 Live Help available to all of its members to answer questions and guide people through any issues they may have with the site or another member. We monitor the private messages as well as the Bark Box to make sure everyone is abiding by our terms and conditions.

In the event a dispute arises, which surprisingly doesn’t happen often, we have a built in dispute resolution system with clear cut procedures and remedies. Additionally, we have an Ebay like member reputation system on the site and members can choose to play the “legit” players. The bad apples are eventually weeded out as no one will play them. An additional feature which helps to mitigate any cheating problems is our Auto Score reporting system. This system when set up through BringIt automatically receives the score of your challenges on specific games and eliminates the requirement for players to self report.

HP_madden09.jpg

VGB: As video games continue to pull ahead of movies and music as the country’s most dominate form of digital entertainment, competitive gaming also seems to be becoming more and more of a viable career path for serious gamers. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a sport because I hardly think sitting in front of a monitor/TV screen playing a video game qualifies as athletic, but it has the same mentality as a sport. What is your view on the current landscape of competitive gaming, where do you see it going in the coming years, and how do you think BringIt factors into the equation?

WL: The current landscape of competitive gaming is very exciting with professional gaming leagues such as the MLG leading the way. You have gamers making six figures doing what their parents told them was just a waste of time. Being the best at playing video games is a skill just like playing another professional sport. You need knowledge, dexterity, and dedication to win. At BringIt we are making gaming real. Currently there are millions of people online each day playing to prove they are they best in their favorite game. BringIt is allowing gamers to take their skills to the next level and earn cash from their game play.

Land based gaming tournaments are becoming more and more popular, and we see BringIt as creating the opportunity for everyone to play in tournaments and challenges for prizes without having to leave their home. No longer will you have to buy a plane ticket, or drive 10 hours to play in a cash game. BringIt is tearing down the walls and allowing gamers to compete in a virtual world.

VGB: Do you envision BringIt becoming an avenue for gamers to build careers as professional gamers or is the idea to be more of an outlet for competitive gamers and hobbyists to test their skills and make a little money on the side? Or perhaps both?

WL: I think BringIt is going to be the destination for both hardcore and casual gamers alike. The reason BringIt will be able to support this is the clear ranking system we have on our site. At a glance you know how good your potential opponent is. You have the opportunity each and every time to play in a fair match where you have a chance to win.

We have a segment of the BringIt population which is our “Pro Team” members and they do make some good money from playing games. They also are there to help and tutor other gamers and help them take their skills to the next level. If you want to play for $5 or $10 and have some fun or try to make some money and play for $100 Bring It is a safe, secure, monitored environment for everyone.

HP_HALO3.jpg

VGB: Within the past week, new features like tournaments, auto score reporting and a referral program were introduced. Explain a bit more about these latest additions, and if you’re able to at this time give us a preview of some other features BringIt fans have to look forward to in the near future.

WL: Our Multi-Player tournaments are basically NCAA Bracket style tournaments where 4, 8, 16, 32 or more players converge to win a prize. The automatic score reporting which I mentioned above is a significant feature as it allows you to have your game score automatically reported to the site; this effectively streamlines the BringIt process.

We are constantly taking member feedback and improving the site. We have color coded consoles so it is easier to find a challenge, and we also added Street Fighter and Burnout Paradise to our game list. We plan on integrating with some of the major social networks as well as launching our inter-website chat function.

VGB: Finally, what is the current status of the BringIt beta and when do you plan on launching the service in full?

WL: Just like GMAIL has been in Beta for over 6 years we do not have concrete plans to emerge from Beta. All the site functionality is working at full speed, and we are always making improvements. I envision another generation or site enhancement and once we hear from our community that we are in a solid position we will officially “launch”. We’re not holding anything back, but we are breaking such new ground with some of our ideas we want to be 100% sure they are beneficial to our users and function properly before we take the site out of beta.

VGB: Thanks for your time!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!